Commuting at the moment is really irritating. There's a limited strike on the trains, so while they are still running a service, there are cancellations and delays every day. Instead of taking me less than an hour each way, for the past week the journey has taken more than 90 minutes for a distance of about 12 miles as the crow flies.
Last night, travelling home, I was feeling like it might be my lucky night. The train left on time1, and I settled back enjoying the feeling that I might actually get home at a reasonable hour. Obviously this was a bad idea, and I was enraging the gods of the railway. We waited for ages at New Street station, until the conductor came on the intercom to explain that the train didn't have a driver. I'm no expert on railway systems, but I'm guessing that having a driver is a big help. There followed a period of a fun game of 'train musical chairs' in which people switch between trains because of a rumour that there might be one on the adjacent platform which might be leaving sooner than the one they are on. They then find out that there's a different problem with that train, and come back again (rinse, repeat).
At some point during all this palaver, I was amused by an announcement made on the central intercom system (by a real person rather than the automated announcements). She apologised for the delay to the train on the adjacent platform, which was apparently due to a 'difficult shunting procedure'. She started to announce the reason for the delay on the train I was on, but she paused. "The train on platform 8a is delayed because..." I could almost hear the cogs turning in her brain, while she tried to find a plausible excuse.
"Driver eaten by water buffalo?". No, water buffaloes are a bit too rare in Birmingham. "Driver sucked into a parallel universe by a trans-dimensional vortex?". Nah, too Star Trek. Hmm, got it!
The intercom clicked back to open, and there was a note of triumph in her voice:
...the driver for that train is involved the difficult shunting procedure on platform 7a.
Absolute genius — she managed to cleverly link the two lame excuses into one all-encompassing lame excuse.
1 Well, the train was late, but so was I, so everything was in alignment.